Safeguarding Heroes – How can we give back to our Frontline Workers of COVID-19?

Bangladeshi frontline staff have worked meticulously around the clock since the outbreak in March and risked their own lives, helping people stay home and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease. While healthcare workers around the world have become victim to the virus on the frontline, the mortality rates in Bangladeshi was amongst the highest. Families have fallen and continue to despair from the loss of these heroes, often leaving them in irreversible financial despondency. To bring a glimmer of hope in these grieving homes, Give2Asia, MetLife Foundation and SAJIDA Foundation, partnered up to provide financial assistance to families of deceased frontline healthcare workers (FLHW).

SAJIDA Foundation deployed a multi-pronged approach to identify and reach out to family members of these deceased heroes. Eligible participants were identified taking support of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), COVID-19 designated hospitals, private hospitals, and healthcare professional networks. Stakeholders engaged included:

Fig: Process of the Deceased Frontline Healthcare Payout Scheme

The financial worries faced by these families was devastating. Some of these households had only one earning member who lost their battle with COVID-19. At the same time, many families declined the payout to have them be reallocated to other vulnerable households and in most need.

Among which, Mrs. Shamima Akter, 36 years old, lost her husband in June ’20 to COVID-19. Dr. Shakhawat Hossain, Shamima’s husband, had been a devoted frontline worker to patients under the grasp of this unfortunate adversity. This tragic demise brought incessant sufferings to his family. His 3 children had lost their anchor before the age of 16. One of the children is diagnosed with autism – an expensive disorder to attend to. When Shamima received the payout, she was ecstatic. She shared how the amount would help her attend to pressing expenses of the children’s education and treatment which had been an added stress during these already tough times.

At the end of the project, SAJIDA Foundation and MetLife Foundation disbursed a payout of BDT 6.6 million to 33 families of FLHW who passed away. These payouts helped over 75 individuals, mostly belonging to low-income families. Majority of the payouts went to families of nurses, medicals assistance, lab technicians and community health workers. 

Fig: Locations of Beneficiaries of Deceased Frontline Workers reached 

“Frontline healthcare workers have always played a role of utmost importance during times as such. It is our responsibility, as an organization and individuals, to protect those working frontline. Payout schemes make them feel a certain relief to put themselves out there to make pacify the crisis that they are essential in.”

– Monerul Islam Khan, Director of Support Services, SAJIDA Foundation.

With the arrival of the vaccine, we may think that the risk of spreading COVID-19 will minimize. But the distribution and allocation will take some time for it to reach us all. Meanwhile, as individuals and organizations, we need to step up to protect our greatest asset: our frontline healthcare workers. Strategizing around creating incentive mechanism for them to carry on their duties without having to hold fear is of utmost priority. Strictly maintained safety & hygiene protocols, insurance schemes, abundant supply of PPEs, mental health counselling, phone call follow-ups and designing solutions for issues learned can help give back to these epics of our biggest test in the last decade. We thank our partners, Metlife Foundation and Give2Asia, for making it possible for SAJIDA to uphold its promise to bring good health, happiness, and dignity for all. 

Written by: Kashfia Kayes and Dr. Shangjucta Das Pooja

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